PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork/AP) — If Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow don’t get it done in the red zone, the Jets can turn to Greg McElroy.
After all, he was the only quarterback to lead the Jets to a touchdown this preseason.
“That was obviously a point of emphasis for us, was just red-area execution, and we were able to do it for at least that one drive,” McElroy said following a 28-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
The Jets (0-4) were the first team in 35 years to go three preseason games without a touchdown, matching the 1977 Atlanta Falcons for offensive futility.
McElroy ended that drought. His reward will be a seat on the bench.
“I’m glad we got it,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “I’m not going to sit here and say I wish we (hadn’t scored). I would’ve liked to have saved it and tack it on next week.”
The Jets open against Buffalo on Sept. 9.
“I’m certainly confident and I believe our team is confident,” Ryan said. “I think this team is a lot better than others. … We get to prove it on the field. I know where my bet will be. “
Sure, the preseason record won’t count against New York. But the team’s August outcome hasn’t done much to ease wary fans.
“I’d much rather be 4-0. I hate to lose at anything,” said Ryan. “But they start counting for real next week and we’ll evaluate the team then.”
Sanchez, Tebow and most of the Jets starters didn’t play in this battle between backups and guys fighting for roster spots.
The Jets hadn’t scored a TD in the 13 quarters before McElroy tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Terrance Ganaway midway through the second. Sanchez and Tebow failed to do that in 35 possessions.
McElroy finished 12 of 17 for 90 yards and one TD. He also rushed for 33 yards.
“Obviously we went out there with the intention and the hope to score some touchdowns, so we were able to get one,” McElroy said. “The execution was great. I told the guys when we were out on the field, I said: ‘Hey, let’s just make the most of this opportunity, you don’t get down here very often, let’s not take it for granted, let’s punch it in.’”
A seventh-round draft pick out of Alabama last year, McElroy spent his rookie season on injured reserve after dislocating his right thumb while playing against Philadelphia last preseason.
Sanchez was 24 of 35 (68.6 percent) for 203 yards with two interceptions and six sacks in August. Tebow completed 36.1 percent (13 for 36) of his passes for 151 yards with two interceptions and seven sacks.
Despite Tebowmania, there’s no controversy in New York. Sanchez is the clear-cut starter, but the way the Jets use Tebow will be intensely scrutinized.
“I believe in this team,” said Ryan, “and I believe in this coaching staff.”
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